Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Governor BS Koshyari were on Tuesday engaged in a war of words over the reopening of places of worship, which are shut since the lockdown in March.
After the Governor, in a letter dripping with sarcasm, questioned whether Thackeray had "turned secular," the chief minister shot back, saying that he did not need a Hindutva certificate from anyone, and also alluded to the Kangana Ranaut controversy.
In a sharp rejoinder, the chief minister said that he would take a decision on reopening of places of worship after careful consideration. "You said I am getting divine premonitions? Maybe you get them, but I am not so big," Thackeray replied in Marathi. Referring to Ranaut, but without naming her, the Sena supremo said that hosting people at Raj Bhavan, ''who have likened Mumbai to Pak Occupied Kashmir does not fall into my definition of Hindutva".
The Governor, on Monday, in a letter to Thackeray, had said: "You have been a strong votary of Hindutva. You had publicly espoused your devotion for Lord Rama by visiting Ayodhya after taking charge as Chief Minister. You had visited the Vitthal Rukmini Mandir in Pandharpur and performed puja on Ashadhi Ekadashi.''
Then, came the sarcasm. "I wonder if you are receiving any divine premonition, so that you keep postponing the reopening of places of worship; or have you turned 'secular' -- a term you hated?"
The Governor called it "ironical" that the state government had permitted bars, restaurants and beaches to open; "but our Gods and Goddesses have been condemned to stay perpetually in lockdown".
Thackeray also made it clear that his Hindutva did not require endorsement any endorsement from the Governor. "Just as sudden imposition of a lockdown, in one stroke, was not right, likewise, revoking it abruptly will also not be appropriate.''
Warming up to the theme, Thackeray said: You have said in the latter, 'Have you suddenly turned secular?' But I want to ask you, does reopening of places of worship mean adherence to ‘Hindutva’ and not reopening them means a person is secular?’’ ‘’ You have taken oath as Governor and in the oath the word secularism is crucial. Don’t you agree with secularism?’’ he asked.
Thackeray’s outburst came just as the BJP has upped the ante demanding reopening of temples. The timing is important as the party’s attempt to corner the Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government was not yielding results, since cases of coronavirus are falling.
Thackeray, through his letter, has voiced his disappointment at the Governor indulging the BJP's one-dimensional agenda of attacking the state government.
Thackeray, in the thick of the coronavirus pandemic, had skipped the review meeting convened by the Governor and sent a strong signal that he was not duty-bound to accept directives from Rajbhavan. He had sent his close confidante Milind Narvekar instead, who does not hold any official position, for the same meeting.